Tag Archives: Where Now the Rider

Rob’s Update: Tired Rob Is Tired

Week of 6-12 August

One of my favorite Pennsics ever comes to a close today.

The weather has been incredibly nice. Cool, with only a little rain, and yet still lots of cloud cover. The merchant booth has been profitable, productive, and fun. I’ve had a great time singing, and got to see some wonderful things given to fun people.

But at the end of two weeks, especially with packing in all sorts of stuff in the final few days, I must say I’m ready to be home.

It’s been so busy here that I’ve barely had time to write, so I’m only about 10000 words into Brief Is My Flame, but since that means more sales, I am quite pleased. I’m also pleased where the story lines are going. Yes, I’ve done more plotting than usual, but that doesn’t mean the plot is static.

As I did with Where Now the Rider, I’ll be steadily adding a few entries to the Wiki each week. I think these might be a little more revealing, though, as some of the new storylines are coming from different places. We’ll be exploring more of Svellheim, the Seven Kingdoms, the Western Isles, and the Kreisens, so we’ll all get to find out interesting stuff about those places as the plot takes me there.

I love Shijuren. It’s a fun and interesting world and there’s so much more to come.

Quote of the Week

One of my favorite aspects of Pennsic, and the SCA in general, is the opportunity to sing at bardic circles. This week’s quote comes from a Kipling poem which we have turned to song.

For we hold that in all disaster
Of shipwreck, storm, or sword,
A Man must stand by his Master
When once he has pledged his word.
– Song of the Red War Boat
, Rudyard Kipling

News and Works in Progress

  • Brief Is My Flame (About 10k)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I watched Consortium of Genius perform at ConFluence. They were a lot of fun and surprisingly metal. Most bands at SF/F cons are acoustic in nature, but these guys played their music loud and hard. I had a blast, though I think some of the other people were a bit bemused. I especially enjoyed Think Tank and Middle-earth Needs Me.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

LibertyCon AAR

I started this on July 4th, a perfect time to celebrate LibertyCon XXX. And celebrate we must. LibertyCon is the best-run science fiction and fantasy convention out there and I had a great time.

I arrived at the Chattanooga Choo Choo fairly early on Thursday, having broken the trip up in multiple sections thanks to friends who have offered me crash space. I knew I was going to push myself pretty hard during the weekend, so I did my best to ensure I was as fresh as possible after the drive.

The big event of the weekend for me was on Saturday, where I had a joint release party for Where Now the Rider and For a Fistful of Credits, the new Four Horsemen Universe Anthology. Thursday evening I did some pre-planning and moving of stuff around to figure out the best arrangement of beverages and food.

After I got pretty much all I could do done,  I went to ConSuite, which was not technically open but was still the gathering place. There I hung out with a few people and listened to Sarah Hoyt do a reading from a book that shall remain nameless. They say that traumatic events can cause selective amnesia. It was awful. All I can say is that it wasn’t written by anyone at the con. Oh, I can say one other thing. We laughed a lot.

Most of Friday was spent organizing stuff. I decided on the layout in the room and arranged things as best I could. I also went to the Opening Ceremonies and got reacquainted with old friends. I didn’t have panels on Friday, so mostly I lounged around during the afternoon.

My main thing on Friday was my stint on Author’s Alley from 8pm to 11pm. Basically, I moved all my books and set up in front of the rooms where panels were being held. I sold a few, while meeting a number of potential readers. It’s a lot of work, but it needs to be done, and in the long run it’s worth it.

After that I was tired but had enough energy to enjoy some room parties and hang out with some friends. I especially enjoyed hanging out by the pool with Aaron Mays, Jonny Minion, and a couple of others.

As I was getting a beer from my cooler, I ran into Sarah, Dan, and Robert Hoyt. It turns out that Roberts around the world like IPAs, so I got him one and we stood around chatting. It was my first time actually having a chance to chat with Sarah. Her at LibertyCon is like me at Pennsic, only with a much smaller site and a correspondingly higher chance to find another conversation.

Saturday was a really long day. At 11am I was part of a panel discussing various ways to get your plot unstuck and overcoming writer’s block. There are a ton of possible ways to do this, but it all boils down to finding what works for you. Whether it’s changing the environment, taking a shower, driving around, or something else, it’s the kind of thing that varies for everyone.

At 2pm was a panel I was very much excited to join: The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy. Thanks to my grad school work, I anticipated I’d have lots to say, and I did. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and hope to do it again. I could have gone on for a while.

I then had several hours before my reading with Dave Schroeder at 6pm. There were a couple of very interesting panels to attend, but I chose wisely and took a bit of a nap, arranged my books and display for the party, and got as much prep done as possible.

I did not have time to create a 20-minute long reading from Where Now the Rider, so my reading at 6pm on Saturday was one from I Am a Wondrous Thing that I have done before. It’s a scene where Irina is convinced to give up the title of Velikomat and the immediate aftermath of her stepping down. It’s an emotional one for me, and I always cry when I read it. It’s a powerful section, and I get a pretty good response from those that listen. Dave read a bit from his new fantasy series, the Congruent Apprentice, which sounds interesting but which I’ve not yet read, and a small bit from his Xenotech Rising series, which I have read some of and really like.

The Four Horsemen Universe is a series of stories about humans discovering that interstellar mercenaries are their best export good. It’s a large sandbox created by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey and many fantastic mil-sf authors are joining in. I am looking forward to reading these stories, just as much as I’ve enjoyed the novels in the universe. Oh, and I just might be working on a short story for the next anthology.

However, this party was to celebrate the release of their first anthology, as well as my newest book. The writers of the anthology brought all the food and I brought nearly all the beverages. As usual, I am coming home with about the same amount as I took out, but at least we didn’t run out of alcohol. Many thanks to Kacey Ezell, one of the contributors to the anthology, who also contributed her cooler to help organize the drinks.

Which is a good thing because we were packed. It was a great party and I sold a goodly number of books, as well as added to my mailing list. Basically, we went four solid hours with guests.

Around 12:30, the crowd dissipated, and with the help of Aaron and a few others we transported the leftovers over to the ConSuite and shut the party down. I was toast. So toast that it took a while for me to relax enough to get to sleep.

I was still tired Sunday, but I had expected that. I started the day at the Kaffeeklatsch. I had a great conversation with the Science Guest of Honor, Dr. Elisa Quintana and Dr. Tom Barclay, who is also a scientist. They study exoplanets and we discussed the most efficient ways we can get humans in space. Well, I asked questions and they taught me stuff, which was wonderful from my perspective.

Immediately after that was my turn at the signature table, where I joined Gray Rinehart and Charity Ayres. The signature table can be packed if a David Weber, David Drake, or John Ringo is sitting there, but for us was fairly quiet. I think we all sold a book or two, with signatures, but mostly the three of us had a great conversation.

One of the joys of LibertyCon is comparing notes with other professionals, because there is such a high percentage of professionals to fans. LibertyCon caps its attendance at 750, and over 150 attendees are professional writers, artists, scientists, or something else relevant. Also, I would bet that a large number of the remainder are people like me at my first LibertyCon, those who want to become professionals. It’s a great chance for us all to learn, and over the years I’ve learned a ton.

Anyway, my last panel of the weekend was Cooking Out of this World. This panel went off the rails. At least we were funny, but we were all a little tired and we strayed from the topic early and often. Todd McCaffrey did ask one interesting question that we talked about a bit but not enough, and that’s what are the environmental factors that will affect the way things taste in space? Obviously, things taste differently on airplanes, which is something airlines are already dealing with, but will be an issue for interplanetary and interstellar travel.

The last session of LibertyCon is the Bitch at Brandy session. Brandy Spraker is the chairman of the con, and she does a fantastic job. The closing ceremonies each year are a chance for people to suggest things that could be improved. Once everyone has had their chance to make comments, good and bad, about the con, she officially closes the con. They take these suggestions seriously, too, and I have seen some implemented in the four years I’ve gone.

Much of the rest of Sunday involved me finishing cleaning up after the party and doing most of my packing. I have learned that I want to stay  overnight on Sunday and leave Monday morning, but I basically pack everything but Monday’s clothes and shower stuff.

I got that done in time to join about 35 of us at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had the fortune of sitting next to a few people I knew, but had never really talked with, including Miriam Ringo, the wife of one of the best mil-sf writers around, John Ringo. What a fun and generous person she is. She had a bracelet on that I admired and thought Giulia would also like. Miriam immediately removed it and handed to me as a gift. By this point were about 3 minutes into our conversation. I was stunned by her generosity then, and still find it amazing and admirable now. Then we had a long and wonderful conversation.

Actually, everyone at dinner had a great time. It has been decided that this will be a LibertyCon Sunday evening tradition.

Following dinner was something that is already a LibertyCon tradition, the Dead Dog party. Basically, those who stay on Sunday evening eat drink as much of the leftovers as possible and play games or hang out.

Again, I had some incredible good fortune. Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, the inventor of Munchkin and a bunch of other great games, was playtesting some games and I got to join in. Steve is a wonderful and fun guy, and the rest of us had a blast tossing out ideas and picking them apart.

Getting to toss out suggestions on games, even bad ones, to a legend like Steve Jackson is definitely a highlight for me.

Around 12:30, we called it a night, and therefore the end of the con. I went to bed and left for a fairly smooth drive back. The only real excitement was seeing a collision about a half-mile ahead of me in the oncoming lane. The truck driver did a great job and controlled his 18-wheeler in the median so our lane never had to worry.

As I’ve mentioned, LibertyCon is a different beast from other cons. I will be going back there every year, though there’s some question as to when and where the next one will be.

For the four years I’ve attended, it has been at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, but the hotel has sold off about 80% of its rooms to make apartments / condos. Basically, while the convention space is fine, there are only rooms for about 20% of the con goers. This means many are off in the Marriott, which is not far but still puts a crimp in the con experience. Part of the fun of cons is going to room parties which are elsewhere in the hotel. Have fun, drink a few beverages, and then trundle to your room. No travel logistics to speak of. Even free shuttle buses are not a great solution, though of course those were provided.

In short, the Choo Choo simply cannot work anymore. Unfortunately, convention sites are notoriously difficult to find at times, and Brandy and her folks are casting about for a solution. I heard a rumor that a new convention hotel is getting built in Chattanooga, but will not be fully ready by summer 2018. I’m not sure if that’s true, but while they aren’t at all sure of time and place next year, or even if they might take a year off, they all seemed confident that things would be fine by 2019.

Whatever they come up with, I’ll be back.

Rob’s Update: One More Day

Week of 4-10 June

Greetings all

A Lake Most Deep is FREE on Amazon for one more day. If you’ve wanted to suggest the Edward series to anyone now is the time to do it. On Saturday, it returns to its normal $3.99 price.

One more day means much more than that to me, though. Jason Garrett, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, talks all the time about stacking good days. Do good work today. Then tomorrow, do more good work. Then the day after. Pretty soon, you’ve made great progress.

He’s right, and this is a business where that’s needed. You don’t get novels written in a week of good days, at least I can’t. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that I struggle with. This week has especially been a challenge. There was a bit of a catastrophe at my house a week or so ago. It’s nothing huge, and insurance is doing its job. I’d like to say right now that Nationwide has been awesome. Anyway, while nothing difficult, and will oddly end up being a good thing for the house, it takes time and energy, and has distracted me some from my work.Hence, I’ve done little but behind the scenes stuff all week.

The good news is that weeks like this often mean my mind starts bubbling with ideas, and that’s happened. I was in the shower the other day and I realized exactly how I will kill off a very important character. It won’t happen in the next book, or probably even in the book after that. However, there will come a time when that character will die in a certain way.

That’s always a satisfying feeling, actually. Oh, I cry every time I kill off a character I like, and I’ll cry when I kill this one off, but now I know the character’s entire story arc. I have a bunch of details to fill in between now and then, but the character has carved out his or her place in my world. One of these days, this character will have served its purpose, and I am happy to say its an important purpose.

Now I just have to keep stacking days, type out the hundreds of thousands of words between now and when that character meets its fate.

One last thing to mention. I was a guest on last Sunday’s Write Pack Radio discussion of Plutarch and writing non-fiction. I’ll be on again this upcoming Sunday where we discuss working with an editor. You can find them at:

Quote of the Week

The catastrophe basically involved water overflowing. Hence, this quote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of my favorite poets, seems apt.

I first learned this poem, by the way, by listening to Rush. I learned another Coleridge poem from Iron Maiden, and I think I was the only person in 8th grade who really enjoyed going through the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Anyway…

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

News and Works in Progress

  • Not much to report this week in terms of new fiction.
  • Started working on revamping my website.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

Right about now, three friends of mine are flying to France so they can walk about 500 miles of the Camino Real to Santiago de Compostela. This is a pilgrimage that I’d like to take someday. In 2012, I walked about 100 miles of the Offa’s Dyke trail, and I will say that long distance walks are awesome, even if exhausting and tough. If you go to http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=248, you’ll find the first of my blog posts about that trip. I enjoy reading through that quite a bit.

However, this is a spotlight section, so I’ll point the spotlight at Heather Dale, who has provided a theme song for all pilgrimages at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww_lVS2P9cM. You can find the rest of her stuff, which is brilliant, at: http://heatherdale.com/.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Weekend Doings

Greetings all

Been a busy weekend here in Rob-ville, though much of the work was done weeks ago.

First, Where Now the Rider is live on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Rider-Adventures-Edward-Book-ebook/dp/B071462WXM/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

In honor of the release of Where Now the Rider, the e-book version of A Lake Most Deep is free on Amazon starting tomorrow and running all week long. If you have been wanting to tell your friends about my books, now’s the perfect time.

If you want to hear about my writing philosophies, you can check out Write Pack Radio today.  This week’s podcast talks about Plutarch and Writing Non-Fiction.

I’ll also be featured next week when we talk about working with an editor.

For me, I’ve spent this weekend packing and plotting several things.

Plot. Plot. Plot.

Bwa ha, bwa ha ha.

Rob’s Update: Percolating

Week of 21-27 May

Greetings all

I am done with Where Now the Rider, except I’m gonna let it percolate over the weekend. I have completed all the edits I’ve been given and I like it a lot. But oddly enough, thanks to a quirk in scheduling I need to have it done on Tuesday, but not today. This weekend is ConQuest 48 and I could rush to put it up on Amazon and deal with all the details on CreateSpace, but instead, I’m going to read it one last time this weekend before putting it up on Tuesday. I doubt I’ll find much to change, but I’ll admit that I’ve never ever finished anything I’ve ever written, I’ve just released it into the wild.

Seems oddly comforting to have a few days to let it sit, though.

Anyway, I’ll be swamped over the weekend. Here’s my schedule

Friday, May 26
8:00pm:    Bheer! Glorious Bheer! (Moderator)

Saturday, May 27
10:00am:  What Gives Characters Depth (Moderator)
2:00pm:    Using History in Fantasy and Science Fiction
4:00pm:    Writing Fight and Combat Scenes
6:00pm:    Bars in SF (Moderator)

Sunday, May 28
10:00am: Fantasy in the Rest of the World
12:00pm:  Reading

The using history in fantasy and science fiction panel is the one I did at CoastCon on the spur of the moment. In it I go through the events of the Martin Koszta Affair of 1853 and show how those event can inspire me to write speculative fiction. It’s did well at CoastCon, though I only had 8-9 people. We’ll see what I get at ConQuest.

The beer panel should be interesting. I don’t know that I’ve mentioned it here, but I had a friend of mine brew a special ale for Ragnar. Yes, a real beer made by my fictional character. Sort of. Anyway, I brought a couple bottles for that panel. I may bring more tomorrow for the panel discussing bars in SF.

Quote of the Week

The convention hotel, by the way, is near the World War One museum, which I cannot recommend enough. It’s a great museum and well worth visiting when you can. I’ll swing by this weekend for Memorial Day, even though I won’t have time to visit the museum itself. However, my mom’s father served in WW1 and I arranged for him to be on a brick in the patio in front of the museum.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend, but I also hope we remember why we don’t have to work on Monday.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae, In Flanders Fields

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider done but percolating one last time
  • Brief Is My Flame, some plotting and 1k words written
  • Short stories, 2k written

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

A couple of my friends have a small publishing company. They’re great people, and if you’re looking for a small house to publish with, you might try Stonebunny Press. You can find them at http://www.stonebunnypress.ca/. I especially encourage all my Canadian writer friends to look at them.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works
  • A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Book 1)
  • The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Book 2)
  • Where Now the Rider (Edward, Book 3) Forthcoming 2017
  • I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Book 1)
  • Brief Is My Flame (The Kreisens, Book 2) Forthcoming 2017
  • None Call Me Mother (The Kreisens, Book 3) Forthcoming 2018

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Kairoi

Week of 7-13 May

Greetings all

What’s a kairos? It’s a Greek word meaning a moment of indeterminate time where something significant happens. You can find more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairos.

So, what significant things happened this week? Well, I discovered the word kairos and its plural (kairoi). I had been casting around how best to explain the Lore Stream of Magic in my world. I originally started by using the word filament, and explaining the a clikurios (lore magician) manipulated and entwined filaments to serve their purpose.

However, I never liked that word. It never quite fit, plus it was too much like using “tendrils” to describe Love Magic. I want each type of magic in Shijuren to be different, not just in effects but processes.

Anyway, I love the word kairos. I had always envisioned Lore Magic essentially stacking butterfly effects in sequences that create a greater likelihood of a lore magician’s desired result. Tricky, subtle stuff. This type of magic was inspired by a combination of Hari Seldon from Asimov’s Foundation series and Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. Gandalf, for example, rarely does obvious magic but always seems to be at *the* right place at *the* right time. Hari Seldon, of course, used psychohistory to manipulate outcomes over thousands of years.

Butterfly effects rely on moments, so a filament is simply not the right way to describe them. However, a kairoi sequence works perfect from my perspective. I know I probably use too many odd words, but magic is supposed to include all sorts of words like abracadabra. I just take mine from Greek, Old English, Russian, Hindi, or whatever seems interesting at the moment.

Kairos is just one of the many things I have added to the wiki (www.shijuren.org) over the past week. In fact, all the new people, places, and words used in Where Now the Rider are on the wiki. I have editing to do but it’s not out of the possibility that it goes live next week.

It’s the final steps in the process time.

But wait, there’s more. It’s been a very good week. I’ve started work on a project that I will discuss later, when it’s closer to being done. And there’s a couple of wiki posts where I talk about my writing philosophies.

This weekend I am looking forward to rejoining the Write Pack Radio podcast. We’ll be recording on Sunday and I’ll let everyone know when those episodes are going live. I’ll probably blog discussing that process on Monday.

Oh, and I’ve made progress on a couple of new events to attend. It’s amazing how much of the details here and there I get done when I stay home for a weekend.

Quote of the Week

I love the Foundation series, not simply because it serves a basis for my magic system, but as one of the most intriguing series ever in science fiction. I wish I could have met Asimov. I think he and I would have loved discussing my magic system.

  • “The psychohistoric trend of a planet-full of people contains a huge inertia. To be changed it must be met with something possessing a similar inertia. Either as many people must be concerned, or if the number of people be relatively small, enormous time for change must be allowed.”
    ― Isaac Asimov, Foundation

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider in final editing stages
  • Brief Is My Flame in initial throw words at the page stage
  • A seeeeekrit project

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is overdue. I had meant to point this one out much earlier. Dorothy Grant has spent a great deal of time helping her husband, Peter Grant, put out both military science fiction and westerns. In February, she published her first. Check it out at: https://www.amazon.com/Dorothy-Grant/e/B06VTKQKD5/ref=ntt_aut_sim_3_2.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works
  • A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Book 1)
  • The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Book 2)
  • Where Now the Rider (Edward, Book 3) Forthcoming 2017
  • I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Book 1)
  • Brief Is My Flame (The Kreisens, Book 2) Forthcoming 2017
  • None Call Me Mother (The Kreisens, Book 3) Forthcoming 2018

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Preproduction Thoughts

The last few days, I’ve been in final preproduction mode for Where Now the Rider. Right now, I’m close to complete because I had a very productive weekend.

At Comicon I mentioned that was my plan and someone I talked to asked what I meant, so I thought I’d write a blog post for what I do. It’s easy to say that preproduction is doing all the things that turn a manuscript into a publishable novel, but what does that entail. Here’s a sort of checklist for me.

  1. Create a title page and colophon. This is the basic stuff that says who is involved in the copyright, like the artists and editors, and the normal copyright disclaimers. This page is in every book, so this part is easy for me as I have one written already and I cut and paste, changing the relevant information.
  2. ISBN Numbers: I assign an ISBN three numbers to each book, one for the electronic version, paperback version, and audiobook version. I don’t necessarily have to assign one to the electronic version, but I think there’s an advantage and since I buy the numbers in bulk, it costs me very little. In any case, this is generally a tedious but fairly quick process. I then add these numbers to the colophon.
  3. Dedication and Foreword. I often do these ahead of time when I feel motivated. They need editing, after all, though I’ll admit I don’t worry about editing these as much as I do the text.
  4. Double-check the map. Make sure it’s only 300dpi and fits in the space. At this point, it’s a standard thing and all I’m doing is making sure nothing’s gone wrong.
  5. Adding the people, places, and glossary. This is the longest part of preproduction. I could cut a bunch of hours if I didn’t do this, however, I think it’s important to make things easier for my readers. Also, I find it extremely helpful to me to keep the online wiki at www.shijuren.org updated. I’ve done many of the entries while I’m writing the book, but this makes sure I haven’t missed any. I’ll discuss this section more in a moment.
  6. Adding the world-building appendices: the calendar, magic, and religion of Shijuren. These are written and I think they’re pretty good as the stand, so this is just cut and paste right now.
  7. Adding extra pages. I’ve discovered that if I need to make an edit, I want to have some extra pages at the end. Not many, say 5-6. However, when Patrick McEvoy makes the cover, he has to know how many pages wide to make the spine. This is tricky. If I add any pages, he has to make the spine wider. Rather than risk this, I add some ahead of time so if I need to make an addition to the book at the next printing, I can do so without bothering him. What if, for example, I want to put a snippet of Edward, Book IV in the end? I’ve started adding a snippet of the book immediately following to A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll, by the way.
  8. Cover blurb. I hate this part. How can it be so hard to write a cover blurb when you have written a 100k-word novel? For whatever reason, this is incredibly difficult to me. I suppose I’m getting better, but it’s still tough.
  9. Double-check all the other cover items. this really isn’t much, actually, since we’ve done this before. I like my author description so I’m not changing it right now.
  10. Look for orphans. Theoretically, Word is supposed to do that, however, I’ve seen a few of them appear. It’s less of a problem since I started writing in the format I end up printing in (6×9, half-inch margins plus an extra half in for gutter, Garamond 12pt font). If I find any, I see if I can cut a line or two somewhere in the chapter. Usually I can.
  11. The last, absolute last, thing is creating a Table of Contents. Fortunately, Word does most of the work for me however if you make any changes to the text that might add or subtract a page messes things up. I do it last, then clean it up a little to look like how I want it.

That’s basically it. There’s probably more I’m not thinking of right now, but that’ll do except for more on the people, places, glossary, and wiki.

I enjoy working on the wiki. It’s usually a relaxing way to spend time because worldbuilding is my favorite part of this. Part of the adding the list of people and places is to add links to the main copy of the text. I always work with what will be the electronic copy as shifting to a print version is much easier than vice versa. Thank you, CTRL-SHIFT-F9, which removes every hyperlink in a selection, when combined with CTRL-A, I can eliminate all the hyperlinks in two keystrokes. The print version does not need them, after all.

Anyway, I get the electronic version done and updated, mashing every mistake I can find. I then upload it to Amazon. Only then do I convert to the print version and send to CreateSpace.

And that’s it. It’s a lot of detail work that takes me days because I need to be focused for it to work, and of course I still make mistakes. Fewer now than when I started, though.

Now it’s time for me to go write that blurb.

Thoughts on Language

I’m building the appendices today for Where Now the Rider and I thought I’d post my philosophies about language in a fantasy world.

I’ve given more philosophical thought to this sort of thing than I probably should. In fact, I have struggled in the past to write science fiction or fantasy because they would have a completely different language. English in 100 years won’t be the same, and in 2-300 years may be almost incomprehensible. Languages are like that.

Therefore I should, like Tolkien, create a series of languages. Of course, how do I find an audience when I’m expecting them to learn a series of languages. A tree, for example, wouldn’t be “tree” in another language. Not to mention a pine tree. And a Scotch pine, of course, can’t exist unless there’s a Scotland to refer to. How can anyone even write a fantasy world when all of this needs to be changed?

Of course, we all accept the fiction that people in that world know English. That they have essentially the same language. And, for that matter, that they’re human in the first place.

Still, I think it’s important for a fantasy world to use a some strange words. It is a fantasy world after all, and the language has to match. In my case, since I’m writing medieval fantasy, I’m also bound to using words that fit into the milieu and aren’t too modern.

Once I accept the obvious, there’s a corollary that becomes useful. If I have to accept English as the language for my audience, and I do, and if I have to accept that humans are the best base of a fantasy world, and I do, then I can also accept the use of real-world cultures and languages that aren’t English.

No, I’m not wayyyyy too philosophical, why do you ask?

The answer, by the way, is that if I don’t believe in Shijuren, then how can I ask readers to believe. If I can come up with a philosophical justification for the shortcuts I’ve taken, then it works for me. Which I have and it does.

Anyway….

All of what I just said is important because it shapes how I use language in Shijuren. I look to other languages and adapt words and phrases to suit what I need. For example, majea is pretty clearly a cognate of magic, and I derive it from Ancient Greek. It is handy because when I use it to refer to magic I’m not asking for the reader to stretch to much.

In the same way, when I built the prefixes that apply to majea, I used things that can make sense for those who think about it. Love magic uses “er” as the prefix, from Eros. Land magic, “ge,” as in geology. Yes, I know “geo” is the proper prefix, but that extra syllable doesn’t sound as good. Life magic, “zo,” as in zoology, again cutting a syllable. Line magic, “sym,” as in symbols. And Lore magic uses “cli,” which derives from Clio, the muse of history.

I doubt many readers have caught on to this particular trick, but let me tell you it helps me a ton when my brain is fuzzy and I’m trying to remember just the word to use.

Kurios, by the way, and kurioi, is also Greek-derived, basically for people who are curious. Hence, magicians. Hence erkurios and so on.

For me, just creating these names has also helped lock these different magics in my head. I know what I’m trying to do with them, both what they can allow and what they can’t allow. The limitations to magic, of course, being very important to me.

Anyway, back to language. I use a large number of foreign-derived words. I also use a large number of simple foreign words. For example, “krieger” is German for “warrior.” What better way to say, in one world, “a warrior from the Kreisens?”

Using traditional names of dishes for food is especially important to me. As some have said to me, it’s nice that they’re not always eating a stew. Shchi, cevapi in somun, or shopska is far more interesting to me. Goulash might be easier, but gulyas (the traditional name) is much more fun to me.

Again, I don’t expect or require every reader to examine the hidden depths in the words. Just like in Middlearth, I didn’t have to know Quenya or Sindarin to grasp the bulk of what a word in either language meant, but I guarantee that Tolkien hid etymology that helped him into each word.

This is also true for names and places. In some cases, I’ve used actual names, like Biljana’s Springs (http://wikimapia.org/20513379/Biljana-s-Springs). Achrida is, of course, the ancient name of Ohrid, the city in Macedonia. If you look at pictures of it, you’ll have a better idea of what Achrida looks like, by the way. Also, the Mrnjavcevic and Gropa families existed in the Balkans. They’ve provided all sorts of inspiration for me.

Most of the names, though, I pick from the list at Behind the Names, a fantastic website. Naming patterns vary from culture to culture of course, and this site helps me remain consistent within the various cultures. It also allows me to break the pattern when I wish. For example, Croatian and Bosnian form the bulk of the names in Achrida. Lezh is Albanian, which makes sense if you know that Ohrid is across the lake from Albania. For people from Basilopolis I’ve chosen to go with Greek and Byzantine names.  Since I’m lifting the history of Rome and Constantinople, it’ll come as no surprise that Roman naming conventions predominate in Sabinian Province, the base of the Old Empire from which the Empire of Makhaira is born. However, given that I’ve made Achrida a major trading city, I’ve also tossed in a variety of other names. Turkish, for example. Sub-Saharan Africa contributes Mataran names, which we see periodically in Achrida, as in the case of Chinwe, one of the victims in Where Now the Rider.

There are a few exceptions, and those are names I made up because of some particular reason or reference that makes me smile or those that Adam Hale made up while making the map.

And this is all to the good. Language should be a messy thing. Names should have a variety of things. Even when I’ve chosen to simply a language thing, like names of magic and the calendar, I’ve added a layer, like using Old English to make the calendar.

It’s a balance, and I’ll admit I possibly go too far, but I’m trying to create a world that is deep and rich, a sandbox to let me write a number of different stories. I don’t know how I can do that without playing with language.

Rob’s Update: The 4th Will Be With You

Week of 30 April – 6 May

Greetings all

What a great weekend at Planet Comicon. I’d like to thank all of you who joined this list at KCPC. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Looking forward to next year.

Of course, I’m watching Return of the Jedi as I type this out. I also hope everyone had a great May the 4th.

There’s another reason I titled this update. I finished my 4th book, Where Now the Rider (3rd in the Edward series), on Tuesday. My editor is working on it as we speak. I’ll be doing most of the preproduction next week and you’ll see it soon.

By the way, for those who read last week’s update, that announcement might be familiar. I told you all last week that it was done, except for a few edits. Well, funny story that. I did those edits and in so doing I realized I had a much better ending. So I threw about 4000 words on the page on Thursday at Comicon and then spent the entire weekend waiting to get back to it. Writer problems.

But I like this ending better, it’s stronger, with more action, and with more to bring my overall plan forward. I think you all will like it as much as I do. As a side note, it ended up being around 120,000 words, my longest story in the Edward world.

Quote of the Week

And what else could this week’s quote be?

“It’s a trap!”
– Admiral Ackbar

News and Works in Progress
  • Plotting for Brief Is My Flame, the next Irina novel
  • Plotting for a couple of short stories

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Anita C. Young. You can find her books here: https://www.amazon.com/Anita-C.-Young/e/B00HI6MD3G/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1493952386&sr=1-2-ent

She’s also a fantastic artist and you can find some of her work here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/clanyoung and on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnitaCYoungCreations/

 

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works
  • A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Book 1)
  • The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Book 2)
  • Where Now the Rider (Edward, Book 3) Forthcoming 2017
  • I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Book 1)
  • Brief Is My Flame (The Kreisens, Book 2) Forthcoming 2017
  • None Call Me Mother (The Kreisens, Book 3) Forthcoming 2018

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Planet Comicon AAR

Greetings all

I’m mostly recovered from a great weekend at KC Planet Comicon. It’s an exhausting weekend, of course, but it’s a great chance to meet people and see all sorts of cool stuff.

The con does a number of things well. First, they’re not overpriced. It *is* possible for Artist Alley types to break even and make money. There are lots of cons where that’s not the case. I like the time we have to set up. The big vendors and exhibits can start setting up on Wednesday. I personally went in early on Thursday. The con actually starts on Friday at noon, and smaller vendors like myself can even set up on Friday morning, if needed. Also, I like that they had so many volunteers and they did a good job of making those volunteers available to us.

The only truly bad experience I had was the parking, and I was fortunate. Parking around Bartle Hall is tough, and I’m happy to pay $75 for one of the dock spots. I parked on the West Dock, which is really convenient for me. The problem was their system of purchasing. When I got there Thursday morning, I was told specifically that if I wanted a West Dock spot they would go on sale at 5pm. Fair enough. Except they went on sale earlier than that. I got mine at 4:30pm, and I think mine was the last one. I bet there were a number of livid people who followed the rules and got screwed. I know I almost was. I passed that upchannel because that’s an awful yet avoidable customer fail.

Comicon was bigger than ever, I think. I know I spent an hour before hand on Saturday walking around and I did not see it all. Food choices were also better than ever. They didn’t simply have the normal hot dog and nacho choices, but several food trucks parked in one end. Also, there was a service that would deliver food to our booths for vendors, however, they only offered carb-heavy choices so I didn’t have anything. I almost tempted Giulia into the 96-ounce Roasterie coffee, though.

They also offered a number of perks to those with exhibitor badges. Apparently, they also worked as fast pass badges in lines for celebrities or food. In general, I would have to say Planet Comicons are great for vendors.

I had a goodly amount of traffic throughout the weekend. Friday afternoon was slow, but that’s to be expected. Saturday and Sunday were hopping, though, and I got lots of names for my mailing list as well as enough sales to break even. More than good enough.

My aisle also benefited from having Timothy Zahn across from me. He was very gracious and patient. I actually brought my first edition Blackcollar and Backlash Mission books which Dad bought used a loooong time ago. He enjoyed seeing the copies, and we both had a chuckle at the combined $3.50 Dad paid for those. I also got a chance to reminisce about the Green Dragon, which was such an important place for me growing up.

I tried something new this year. Last year, a number of people admired my cover art so I printed off 12 each 8x10s of the covers from A Lake Most Deep, The Eyes of a Doll, and Where Now the Rider. As a side note, I ordered Monday night, they were shipped on Tuesday, and I got them on Wednesday. MPix did a great job. Anyway, I only sold 3 prints, though I gave away another to a good customer.

I think I marketed them incorrectly. First, I think people would have paid more than $12 if they were larger, like 11×17. Second, I offered the same kind of deal as I do with my books: Buy one, get a discounted price for any others. I think a better way to market them will be $12, $9 if you show me your Kindle where you purchased one of my ebooks. That could be a good way to offer the 8x10s. I’m still contemplating the postcard idea, but this will do for now, I think.

I really wish I had had Where Now the Rider done. Selling a set of 3 would have been a great option for me. It’ll be there next time, though and I’m discovering that books happen on their own schedule, to a certain extent.

My other regret is not getting on panels again this year. Totally slipped my mind. I’ll not let that happen next year.

All in all, though, it was a great weekend and I look forward to doing it again next year.